Dubai’s Al-Futtaim says to close three Singapore stores

The Asia regional head of Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Group has said Singapore has too many malls that are too similar to each other.

Al-Futtaim announced last week that it will close two John Little stores and a Marks and Spencer outlet in Singapore in the coming months.

Kesri Kapur, Al-Futtaim’s head of business in Asia, told The Malay Mail that Singapore’s retail sector is unsustainable as it stands as it has too many shopping malls that are similar to one another.

“I personally believe that Singapore is ‘over-retail’. There are far too many stores, far too many malls in Singapore and not enough shoppers – and these are similar types of stores,” he said Kapur.

“There is not enough differentiation in the stores. For such a small market, if it’s to be viable in the longer-term and sustainable, there has to be some differentiation (among) the stores,” he added.

Kapur said the closures were part of a consolidation plan and that none of the employees in the stores would be laid off, and will instead be redeployed to other stores or roles within the conglomerate.

He said consumers are going online more for shopping and in response to this, Al-Futtaim will launch its e-commerce offering later this year.

“It’s not just a cost cutting exercise for us. Operational efficiency and customer engagement are important, but customer engagement happens when they see something new either in terms of distribution channel or the type of products that we’re selling… it’s our intention to make (it) as convenient as possible for the consumers,” Kapur told The Malay Mail.

In 2008, Al-Futtaim took control of Robinson and Company (RCL), Singapore’s signature department stores chain with department and specialty stores such as Robinsons, John Little, Marks & Spencer, Principles, Trucco, River Island and Fat Face in Singapore and Malaysia.

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